Posted by Betsy Graziano on 9/18/2017

Utility bills are the second most costly expense for many homeowners, second only to a mortgage. Unlike your mortgage, monthly utility bills fluctuate, rising and falling several hundred dollars a month between hot and cold seasons. Take steps to lower your home utility costs to raise your personal savings and have money to cover housing maintenance and repairs.

Small changes that turn into utility bill savings

Included among utility bills are water, sewage, trash, electric and gas services. Some jurisdictions consider telephone bills to be utility bills as well. Even in mild climates, a 1500 square foot house can use $100 a month in electricity alone.

Own a house that operates mostly off gas and you're gas bill may easily outpace your electric bill. The one area where utility bills can rise, whether your house operates mostly off of electricity or gas, regards hot water. Which leads into the first easy action that can reduce your utility bill.

Turn the temperature down on your hot water heater. You'll need to mark the current temperature setting on your hot water heater. Then, mark where you want to set the lower temperature. Measure the adjusted temperature. To save on your utility bill, you can also turn your water heater off when you're away from home for a day or longer.

Contact your utility company and schedule a review of your home. An experienced representative will come to your home and find leaks and worn filters. The representative will let you know if any appliances need to be replaced.

Keep utility bill savings going

Switch air conditioners and heaters off when you leave home for work. Use floor and ceiling fans when it's not especially hot outside. After several days, your body's internal thermostat may adjust, making it easier for you to get comfortable without turning on the air conditioner.

Close doors to rooms that you're not using. This includes the door to your attached garage.To keep more heat inside your home, open blinds and drapes. When it's hot outside, keep blinds and drapes partially closed. Also, seal windows and doors. Adding more insulation to walls and ceilings is another way to keep heat inside your home when it's cold outside.

Easiest of all the ways to save money on utility bills may be to turn water off while you shave and brush your teeth. Washing your vehicle at a public car wash saves on water. Close the freezer and the refrigerator while you're cooking. Flush the toilet after you relieve yourself, but avoid using the toilet as a trash receptacle. Each toilet flush uses approximately 1.6 gallons of water. Older toilets can use more than three times that amount with each flush.

Save $5 to$10 off each utility and you could pocket $30 or more a month. Cut back on utility usage even more and you might discover that you can do without one or more utilities. Instead of using the savings to take on new debt, invest in your future. Shift money that you save on your utility bill onto retirement accounts and bank savings.




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Posted by Betsy Graziano on 9/16/2017

Welcome to elegant! This beautiful home, situated on over an acre of land, is located in one of Norfolk's most prestigious neighborhoods. The foyer opens to a large dining room as well as a formal living room that could also be used as a study. The kitchen is appointed with custom cabinetry, granite counters & a large center island. The open floor plan along the back of the home allows you to be cooking in the kitchen while enjoying a fire in the family room fireplace. At the same time you will appreciate the views in to the screen porch & emerald green back yard. Hardwood flooring throughout most of the first floor. The second floor has 4 generous sized bedrooms & an updated family bathroom. The luxurious master suite has 2 w/i closets and a stunning new master bath with soaking tub, double sinks, granite & tiled shower with borderless glass door. The screen porch & grill deck create a serene oasis with a coy pond and waterfall. Minutes to the train & Patriot's Place. OH CANCELLED!

More Info on this Property | New Listing Alerts




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Posted by Betsy Graziano on 9/11/2017

There are several benefits derived from the right home office. Set up a successful home office and you could create multiple streams of income or start your own business. You could also enter a successful telecommuting arrangement for an employer or pursue deep, lifelong passions or hobbies.

Profits linked to a successful home office

Website design, freelance writing, real estate investment, interior design and insurance sales are just a few of the many business and hobby avenues that you could explore after you set up a home office. However, simply having space to work or create out of won't necessarily connect you to inner and financial rewards.

You have to feel confident working from home, and that is not a given. It might not seem like it, but there are several challenges inherent in working out of a home office. Among these challenges are requests to perform personal errands for family and friends, childhood responsibilities and background noise.

If you're easily distracted, you may need to sound proof your home office. You also might need to keep televisions and telephones out of your home office. Even if background noise doesn't generally distract you, to succeed while working out of a home office, you need mental discipline.

Path to a successful home office

Signs of mental discipline include only checking emails during certain times of the workday and avoiding non-work related online searches until after you finish projects. You simply must be focused to get the most out of working from home. Other musts are the right tools and equipment. Generally, a successful home office has:

  • An ergonomically fit work desk and chair - Your desk and chair should be properly aligned. If not, you could experience back, wrists or neck pain.
  • Storage space - Even if you store documents on your computer, it's a good idea to have a backup storage space which might come in the form of filing cabinets or removable disks.
  • Robust computer - A computer with a small amount of memory and bandwidth will slow you down. Even if you have to invest money in a new computer, if you plan on working from home full-time, it may be well worth it.
  • Office supplies - Depending on the type of work that you do from home, you may need copy paper, staples, a stapler, scissors, file folders, stacking trays, writing pads and pens.
  • Mailing - Should you do a lot of mailing, a mail weighing station could prove to be a benefit.

Successful home office setups could benefit the economy

Home offices may continue to become attractive, especially as the numbers of people pursuing independent business endeavors grows. If companies that are operated out of a home office yield significant revenues and profits, successful home office setups could strengthen the overall economy.

These offices could also give serious minded professionals increased work life flexibility. After all, it's not just work life balance that can support smart business owners. Work life flexibility is also a huge gain for employees who have an entrepreneurial mindset.

Getting the most from a home office requires the right setup. It requires smart forethought, planning and sufficient resourcing. After that, workers need focus, commitment, resiliency and vision. Passion for the work that is being pursued is a must. Working out of a comfortable, supportive home office could help workers to experience many of the aforementioned benefits.




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Posted by Betsy Graziano on 9/4/2017

Buying a home should be an unforgettable experience. However, problems sometimes may arise that prevent a homebuyer from enjoying the property buying journey.

Whether it's tough negotiations with a stubborn home seller or a property inspection that reveals many problems with a house, problems may occur that can make the homebuying journey memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the homebuying process and ensure you can acquire your dream home quickly.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that homebuyers can use to transform an ordinary property buying experience into an unforgettable journey.

1. Perform Plenty of Real Estate Market Research

Navigating the real estate market can be tricky, particularly for first-time homebuyers. Conversely, homebuyers who evaluate the real estate market closely should have no trouble discovering a wide range of terrific residences.

Examine the prices of recently sold homes in your area. That way, you can establish a price range for homes that match your needs.

Also, analyze the amount of time that recently sold properties were available. This will help you differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's one and ensure you can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.

2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Buying a home likely will require you to get approved for a mortgage. If you receive pre-approval for a mortgage, you can narrow your home search based on your budget.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with several banks and credit unions. These lenders can explain how a mortgage works and help you find one that suits you perfectly.

In addition, don't hesitate to ask plenty of questions when you meet with lenders. These mortgage professionals can provide expert insights into the different types of mortgages, including fixed- and adjustable-rate options. By doing so, they can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage so you can kick off your search for the perfect home.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to buying a home, working with a real estate agent is paramount. This real estate professional will do what it takes to eliminate guesswork and streamline the homebuying journey.

A real estate agent understands the challenges that are commonly associated with buying a home and can help you overcome any potential hurdles along the way. He or she also is happy to respond to your homebuying concerns and queries and provide you with the support you deserve at any time.

Furthermore, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about new homes as they become available, set up home showings and negotiate with home sellers on your behalf. This housing market professional will even provide honest, unbiased recommendations to help you make informed decisions throughout the homebuying cycle.

Ready to get the best results from the homebuying journey? Use these tips, and you enjoy an outstanding homebuying experience.




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Posted by Betsy Graziano on 8/28/2017

You may not think much about your hot water heater. Unless of course, your hot water heater ends up breaking down. Hot water is so important in our homes, yet we take this resource for granted. Hot water does a lot in our homes from clean our laundry to disinfect our dishes to heat up our showers. We use it without thinking about it.  


If you neglect your hot water heater it can cause some costly damage to your home. Your basement could end up flooded. Pipes can burst. You can be without the use of hot water for days- even weeks- if you’re not vigilant about taking care of your hot water heater. 


Once water is gushing from the source, the best course of action is to simply shut the water off to your home. Before you even get to that point there are some tell tale signs of damage to your hot water heater that can be detected before major issues arise. First, if you notice any type of water around your hot water heater, you should get it checked out. Don’t look at it as “no big deal.” Any type of moisture or water stains around the water heater itself are a sure sign that something isn’t right with the unit.


As a homeowner, you should know just how old your hot water heater is. Usually, the installation date on the heater is noted somewhere along with the serial number. The typical hot water heater lasts about 9-11 years. If you live in an area with hard water, this number can vary.   



The Cleanup


Once the damage is done to your hot water heater you’ll likely have a large cleanup project on your hands. You’ll need to call water extraction services that will help dry out the area and clean up any baseboards that can become hazardous. Sometimes, these projects can get a bit bigger than you’d ever expect. After the water is pumped out, the cleanup has only just begun.  


Why Hot Water Heaters Fail


The minerals from water tend to build up (especially in the case of hard water) and cause the unit to rust out form the inside. While the inside of the tank contains glass, it does have metal pieces that can rust. You can replace certain parts of the hot water heater from time to time to keep it in good working order, the best prevention is to replace your water heater when the time is right. Don’t let the unit sit until way past its expiration date.


Being The Homeowner


As a homeowner, you probably wonder if something like a broken water heater were to happen if your insurance would cover the cost of the damage. The insurance will cover the cost of cleanup and repairs. The insurance will not cover the cost to replace the hot water heater or any labor costs. The only way the entire cost would be covered is if you have a home warranty. 


A simple thing that you can get to help alleviate major damage to your home from a hot water heater is to get an alarm. This little device is inexpensive and will alert you when any water hits near the areas of the alarm. This could save you a lot of costly damage and repairs. The most important thing that you can do in your home to prevent major damage from a hot water heater is to stay vigilant and keep on top of maintenance and replacement timelines.           





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